2016 a Year in Review

Looking back 2016 was another pretty crazy year. It’s now been 5 years since I finished my undergraduate degree which meant I returned to Queen’s for homecoming. It was great to see everyone and learn about what they’ve been up to. Queen’s must have done something right since everyone was doing really cool things.

My life advanced in a couple of pretty major ways: Sam, my girlfriend, moved in beginning what I jokingly refer to as the cohabitation. Shopify is continuing to grow at a rapid pace as is my role in the company becoming a Senior Developer. One of my goals for 2016 was to learn more about personal finance and I invested a fair amount of time reading and building spreadsheets. I now feel confident in understanding my savings and investments. I also got interested in politics this year with all the elections and became a more engaged citizen, this is something I plan to continue with in 2017.


I travelled less in 2016 only making it outside the country twice. I had the pleasure to attend Unite, Shopify’s first developer conference, in San Francisco and in the fall I visited Florence Italy for Ruby Day. I also went to Kitchener for Oktoberfest (the largest Oktoberfest outside of Munich) which felt like a real trip even though it was close to home. I’ve got big travel plans for 2017 which is partly why this year was more reserved ✈️


I started rock climbing and snowshoeing as part time sports this year which added some nice variety. Training wise I’ve moved away from power lifting and started doing kettlebells and more asymmetrical weight training. I feel more solid with this new training style so I plan to keep it up for 2017.

I caught my first Callahan ever this ultimate season (intercepting for a point) and later on got my second. I co-captained Swift (Ottawa’s open development team) this year and started a new league team, Heist, which finished 10th overall in the league. In total I played in 6 tournaments including the world famous Gender Blender where we won the best campsite award (bascially means we won the party 🎉).

Side Projects

I spent most of this year in side projects working on my app for running Ultimate tournaments. Web side projects are a huge time sink because they are never done. I finally launched in the spring and had several users over the summer. It’s a pretty niche market so I’m happy with things so far. I’m working several updates based on initial feedback and then I plan to start advertising the product again.

I’m really not kidding when I say the 2 main things in my life are code and Ultimate - it got even more blurred with my second big project of the year. I worked on a re-do of the Parity league software and learned some new tools like webpack, babel, eslint and flow along the way.

Lastly over the winter break I got back into AI programming and learned TensorFlow with my TensorKart project. I posted to Hacker News for the first time and managed to go semi-viral. The response has been incredible, TensorKart is still doing laps of the internet as more people discover, re-tweet or blog about it. I’ve even had some patches submitted to improve accuracy and cleanup dependencies.

Open Source

I made an effort to get back into contributing to open source this year. By contributing I mean submitting code to existing projects not releasing new ones. It takes a lot of effort to submit a high quality patch but I find it rewarding and worthwhile. I’ve found I learn a lot by going through the process of really understanding someone else’s design.

Here are some of my contributions this year:

  • My first Rails PR #27386 - documentation for building generators with command line arguments
  • OpenCV #7887 - fixed training program output for GPU based classifiers
  • Griddle #320 - added a detailed example of how to build a custom filter component
  • The new Shogun website was finally deployed